Frequently Asked Questions

DVFiber is a tradename for the Deerfield Valley Communications Union District (DVCUD) of 19 towns in Windham, Bennington, and Windsor counties. A Communications Union District (CUD) is a unique kind of Vermont municipal entity governed by a Board of Delegates—each appointed by the member towns’ Selectboards.  DVFiber’s single purpose and goal is to help residents, businesses, and organizations gain access to fast, reliably consistent Internet with a goal of 100/100 Mbps service. 

A fiber network consists of a fiber-optic cable with many, thin glass fibers or strands that transmit information with pulses of light at nearly the speed of light.  Vermont has an existing fiber backbone (see map).  

DVFiber would connect to this backbone and then install fiber cable on existing utility poles or underground where necessary. The connection to your home is like telephone or cable television service. A fiber cable would run from the nearest utility pole to your home or business either in the air or underground. A smaller fiber cable would then be connected to a “box” similar to your cable modem or DSL modem to provide the Internet service in your house.

DVFiber expects to develop networks primarily of fiber-optic cables to connect all subscribers. The capacity on such a network is so great that it could offer tens of thousands of television channels, allow thousands of people to talk on the phone, simultaneously offering Internet access at faster speeds than cable, DSL, or wireless systems currently offer.

~ 88% of Vermonters have computers.  ~80% of them subscribe to the Internet for a variety of reasons.

But Vermont ranks 43rd in the nation for Internet transfer speeds. Businesses and families benefit from better Internet access, but the existing service providers haven’t provided universal access to high-speed broadband because Vermont is too rural so it’s not cost effective for them. 

Vermont needs consistent, reliable, high-speed broadband to all homes and businesses because:

a.  Remote learning and education are only possible with consistent, reliable broadband speeds. COVID-19 has exposed significant network deficiencies with the online education experience throughout the state.

b.  Telehealth is a burgeoning need that looks to be a trend that will far outlast the pandemic.

c.  Working from home, which looks like a new normal for many people, requires high-speed broadband to function effectively.

d.  Social connection remains a crucial element in our culture, never more evident than in this time of ”COVID” isolation. 

e.  Research: an unimaginable amount of available information is only keystrokes away.  

f.  You can share a household’s broadband connection with 3–4 people without it feeling clunky.

g.  You can download high-resolution photos in seconds and HD videos in just a few minutes.

h.  You can engage in online gaming with others around the world.

i.  You can upload and share your video and sound productions in minutes.

i.  You can promote your business or hobby to build a stronger economy.

DVFiber can do this because, as a not-for-profit entity, our goal is providing high-speed broadband access for all users within the district, not profits for shareholders. Vermont’s ability to attract and retain a new generation of families requires having the communications infrastructure they require and expect.   

Additionally, the outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic have demonstrated the need for such a system that serves all of us.

The rollout of service to every home and business in the CUD will take time and requires financing. The ability to show cash-positive returns is critical in order to borrow the money needed to continually expand the network to every location, so we are also looking for grants that would help underwrite the cost of the first stages of construction.

We believe that the Federal government will be expanding broadband grant programs, which will allow us and all of rural America to fund the system faster than relying solely on borrowed money. In our current planning, we will be able to build out in four or five phases. 

Zero.  Although we are considered a municipal entity (section 3056),  it is illegal for us to make use of any of your local taxes. If you decide to subscribe to DVFiber, you would pay a one-time installation fee (depending on your property’s unique circumstances) and a monthly fee for Internet service. If you don’t subscribe, there is no cost to you or your city or town.

Currently, young people looking to move to Vermont will only move to communities that have high-speed broadband.

DVFiber will be able to provide the latest communications technology for the next generation, which will increase property values and promote economic development. 
Fast and consistent Internet speeds are needed to support Vermont’s economic backbone, going forward.

Public ownership means that the public has some measure of self-determination over the network. Much like the water department is accountable to the public and therefore does not raise water rates unreasonably, those running the network would be accountable to the public. As part of our business plan, DVFiber is committed to subsidized connections to those living below the poverty line. 

DVFiber is a municipal district. Cities or towns in that district are not liable for debt and are not responsible for maintaining the infrastructure. DVFiber might own the infrastructure outright or partner with other organizations to do so.

Yes! Another Vermont CUD—called ECFiber—already provides extremely high-speed Internet service to 27 member towns. If the district averages 5 – 6 subscribers per mile of fiber, it’s financially feasible.

How much will this service cost?  We don’t know for sure, but expect to have rates similar to ECFiber’s,

…which start with a dedicated 25/25 fiber connection for $72/month. When we are finished with our business plan we will have a clearer picture as to what monthly rates will make the system financially possible.

DVFiber rates have to be competitive and the service will be more reliable because the fiber-net technology has proven to be more dependable, durable, and flexible. It will meet any future requirements for data transmission. (Lab experiments have shown that transmission rates in the low terabits are feasible on today’s fiber-optic lines.) This makes fiber superior to any known alternatives.

Our goal is to ensure access to all communities in our district at speeds exceeding 25/25Mbps up to 100/100Mbps and even greater. These transmission speeds will not decrease during peak times like you may experience with your current provider. Currently, many district residents are getting inconsistent 4Mbps download and 1Mbps upload speeds, if even these unacceptable speeds. 

When glass is in fiber form it is remarkably flexible in addition to being strong and durable. An individual fiber is fragile, but they are bundled together in strong, armored sheaths. Fiber can be cut, just like phone lines or power lines are severed. That said, they have proven more resilient than power lines in ice storms and tornadoes.

Comparing copper vs. optic fiber: Copper wire degrades naturally over time. Glass fiber does not.

Yes. We will never block or throttle traffic or sell your user data. And we will never require that you purchase an entertainment package as part of your service.

Fiber networks are nearly future-proof. The speeds capable via fiber networks are still increasing with new electrical and optical technologies.  The attached equipment may evolve, but the fiber itself has a life measured in decades. Though other technologies may come along, fiber networks will always be extremely fast and uniquely reliable. These networks will have paid for themselves many times over. Fiber networks have been used for decades and the tools for keeping them running 24/7 are mature.

Most telecom and cable companies have some fiber as part of their networks, but they do not typically connect residential customers to the network with fiber. So, while other providers may run fiber to your neighborhood, they typically connect the last mile with slower copper wires or coax-cable to your location. That creates a bottleneck, resulting in slower speeds that leave us less competitive in a world requiring faster speeds. Non fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) networks cannot offer the same experience or guarantee the same high level of service that a true community fiber network offers.

The latest technology that is standard for cable modem networks will greatly increase the available speeds offered by cable companies over time. However, cable networks are only available in densely settled areas, and the companies over-subscribe their services, leaving them vulnerable to a few subscribers hogging bandwidth and degrading service for everyone else. You can usually get high speed download, but upload speeds are significantly slower. This has become increasingly more important when doing more intensive two-way communications such as video conferencing, telehealth, and distance education (remote instruction and learning).

Some of us do now and nearly all of us will soon. When Eisenhower decided to build the Interstate highway system, it was not with the idea that everyone would have to use it. However, business and government functions were greatly improved by this massive infrastructure project. Over time, more and more people recognized its value. Similarly, Internet users need more choices. Those of us who need fast and affordable connections should have the option.

Symmetric connections have the same download speeds as upload speeds. This means that you can send a file to someone else just as fast as you could receive it from them. Asymmetric connections tend to offer much slower upload speeds, which can slow usage of the modern Internet to a crawl and negatively affect activities like video calls, gaming, telehealth, education, and business data needs. Very slow upload speeds can even negatively influence download speeds. Both DSL, cable, and dish networks are usually asymmetrical by design.

Mobile wireless is great but does not offer comparable speeds or the reliability of fiber connections and usage is often capped. Fixed wireless has its place and is excellent for cell phones, but lacks consistency and capacity to reach every location given Vermont’s terrain.

Wireless is simply not a replacement for a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network. Where either fixed or mobile wireless towers are needed, fiber networks provide the “backhaul” to power them. We expect that to be the case with DVFiber networks. 

DVFiber will need to place a new device called a network interface device (NID) on the outside of your home or business. This may or may not be where the old connection was, depending upon several factors. An indoor device called an optical network terminal (ONT) and a separate power source will also need to be placed inside your home or business.

Are you thinking of taking the plunge and “cutting the cord”?

The idea of “cutting the cord” may seem to be a little confusing at first, but the benefits far outweigh the effort needed to set up your new TV streaming devices. TV streaming will allow you to watch what you want when you want.

For a fraction of the cost, you could get your favorite TV shows, movies, and even live sports through your DVFiber Internet service with streaming devices. Television has changed quite a bit over the past few years. It might be time for your viewing habits to change as well, which will give you much more control over what you watch and when.

These are the most popular hardware devices you can use to connect your television to your fiber Internet service:

Apple TV

Google Chromecast

Roku

PlayStation

If you have questions about some of the terminology that you may encounter regarding broadband and the Internet, please go to our Definitions of Technical Terms page.